How I Quit Cutting Up Vegetables

The one thing that I had to get used to when I switched from my standard American diet to the whole foods, plant-based diet was the whole idea of food preparation and cooking. Like a lot of people, I was too used to convenient foods. Cooking meant tearing open the carton and popping the tray of whatever I had planned for that night in the microwave. I never had to clean my gas oven because I never used my gas oven. Even making salads involved nothing more than tearing open the bag and topping it with whatever was in the salad kit. And usually that topping wasn't more vegetables. But it did involve oil.

When I started the whole foods, plant-based way of eating, I found that I had made a 180 degree turn when it came to food preparation and cooking. Suddenly, I was spending a lot of time doing two things:

  • Studying recipes trying to figure out what to make and
  • Standing at the kitchen counter cutting and dicing and chopping
While I enjoyed working with my new found fresh vegetable friends, I also found that I was sometimes spending more time doing that than I wanted to spend. But that has been my life for the past 9 months.

Then I discovered Jeff Novick's Fast Food DVD series. And that has changed my life. Jeff addresses both of those bullets I just mentioned. Regarding the first one about spending time looking for recipes, Jeff suggests that there are an endless number of meal ideas that can be prepared by using just five basic ingredients. Those ingredients are:
  • Canned or aseptic packaged tomatoes, both whole and pureed. Each can or package should be 28 ounces with no salt added.
  • Canned beans, again with no salt added.
  • Frozen vegetables
  • A starch like brown rice, potatoes, pasta or sweet potatoes
  • Spices and seasoning
I discovered that I could make an endless number of dishes by selecting something from each one of those generic ingredients. For example, if I want Italian Primavera one night, then all I need is a can of whole tomatoes, a can of tomato puree, 2 cans of dark red kidney beans, 3 pounds of frozen Italian vegetables, a pound of whole grain pasta and some Italian spice mix (Jeff even suggests buying already mixed spices such as Italian spice mix rather that doing it all individually yourself).

I cook the pasta in one pot and everything else gets poured into another pot and cooks at the same time as the pasta. And that whole meal, like all the meals on Jeff's DVD series takes only ten minutes to make. Now that's fast food that's good for you too.

And by buying frozen vegetables, I'm not spending a lot of time at the counter cutting up ingredients for making that Italian Primavera. I just open the bag and pour the vegetables in. 

Frozen vegetables can also be purchased organically as well. And because they are frozen quickly after being picked, frozen vegetables are oftentimes more nutritious than are fresh vegetables that were picked a day to several days earlier. So, I don't lose any nutrition by buying frozen vegetables. In fact, I may be gaining nutritional value.

And that's how I've quit cutting up vegetables (well, not completely, but this certainly cuts down on a lot of time). I recommend everyone looking to cut down on their menu searches and food preparation times give this a try.